Pope Francis has suggested for the first time that some people in same-sex unions could be blessed by the Catholic Church. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the pope said although such unions can never be considered the same as sacramental marriage between a man and a woman, the Church must try to show them compassion and mercy.
The pope’s remarks offer a different perspective from the official Catholic stance on same-sex marriage, but it does maintain Catholic teaching that such unions are “not equivalent” to marriage. Many interpreted this papal suggestion as a sign of the Church’s growing openness to members of the LGBTQ community, even while it maintains its core teaching.
However, the Vatican emphasized that the pope’s comments should not be taken as a signal of a change in Church doctrine, but merely as an example of the pope’s call for more compassion and dialogue surrounding such topics. The Vatican clarified that the pope was simply referring to a Cannon Law passage that permits blessings for any “conditions,” which can include “non-sacramental unions,” and that he is not challenging the Church’s teachings on the sacrament of marriage.
St. John Paul II stated in 2003: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” These remain the Catholic Church’s official teaching on the matter.
Therefore, Pope Francis’ comments should not be seen as a sign that the Church is altering its position on same-sex marriage, but rather as a conclusion that some people in same-sex unions can still be part of the Catholic Church in some capacity and receive a blessing from it.